Soldan's Feeds & Pet Supplies is an independent, family-owned business - proudly serving the needs of pet owners in mid-Michigan since 1955.
- Our customers - The people that open their generous hearts and homes to care for those that are unable to help themselves. Customer loyalty is the sole reason we have passed the 50 year anniversary, and for that, we are forever grateful.
- Our employees - They are the heartbeat of this business. For those employees that strive to exceed our customers' expectations in the areas of customer service, product knowledge, store cleanliness, and organization.
- Our family - For my parents and the doors of opportunity they opened for all of us.
- Our suppliers - For those distributors that offer dependable deliveries that keep us stocked full of products that our customers need. Soldan's also values its manufacturer relations for product development, product training, promotions, and for "sharpening their pencils" so we may continue to offer competitive pricing.
- Our pets - These are the animals that love us unconditionally - no matter what. We believe in giving back to them and the community. In 2004, Soldan's was recognized by the Capital Area Humane Society for contributing over $100,000 in accrued lifetime donations to help fund adoptions of local dogs and cats. In 2006, Soldan's donated $50,000 to sponsor the first no-leash dog park in Lansing, Michigan. We continue to help sponsor fundraisers and events for all local animal related events whenever possible.
Howard Soldan (Senior) purchased an existing store in 1955, which primarily catered to farmers, selling products such as feed and fertilizer. Known as Ruhf's Feed Store, it served the Lansing market under Soldan's leadership until he sold it in 1972. Howard and Erna Soldan intended to semi-retire and spend their summers on Mackinac Island with their youngest son, Howard Soldan II. They began enjoying some leisure time, expecting that a chapter of their lives had ended.
As fate would have it, in 1976, the new owners went bankrupt, and the business was back in the hands of the Soldan family. Howard & Erna Soldan were committed to get it up and running again, with the intent of selling the business to resume traveling and semi-retirement. Howard Soldan II, then a junior at Holt High School, started working in the business after school and on weekends. He was given a small section of the store to experiment with and began adding an expanded line of pet supplies, collars, bowls, toys, treats, etc. Slowly, pet supply sales started to exceed that of the farm supplies. The family decided to pursue the pet supply idea, and rather than sell the business, to stick it out.
As it turned out, they did much more than just "stick it out". They worked long hours and watched the company grow. In the mid eighties, Howard Soldan II slowly took on the role of visionary and risk taker of the company. In 1985, they moved out of the original store and moved into a new facility built behind the original store. In 1987, they added a second location. In the early 1990's, three additional stores were added. In 1999, Soldan's purchased a three store, independent chain in the Michigan Tri-City Area. Additional locations were added in 2000 and 2004. After several renovations, some moves, and the closing of a couple of stores, Soldan's, today consists of eight retail locations plus a mill.
Competing with the "Big Dogs"
It seems everyone wants a "piece" of the pet specialty business - whether it's the national pet supply chains, the warehouse clubs, grocery stores, mass market, or internet websites. Competition is healthy. Soldan's has to constantly strive to differentiate itself from the competition. Soldan's has earned an excellent reputation for customer service. The Soldan's employees are proactive in their approach to helping the customers - greeting each customer, answering questions, locating the right products, transferring products, handling special orders, carrying out purchases, thanking our customers, etc... In addition, keeping prices competitive and offering a large selection of products is a key to our success.
I would like to remain in business for another fifty years - or when it's not fun anymore. Everyday has a new challenge, but it is the personal relationships that I value most - with my family, employees, customers, vendors, etc. It is the people that make the difference. We are actively working on an e-commerce pet supply web-site to expand our reaches beyond the borders of Michigan. Please Stay Tuned!
As of this writing, my only daughter recently graduated from Northern Michigan University in beautiful Marquette, Michigan receiving her business degree. Perhaps she will be third generation?